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“Breathing With Both Lungs”

By Brian Lohmann ’98

That glorious home away from home known as the Kartause was for me, in the fall of 1997, a haven of peace, a greenhouse of grace. And the opportunity to live and study, travel and pray with our Catholic brethren from the Eastern tradition was no small part of my formation in that most memorable of semesters.

Just two years prior to the founding of Steubenville’s Austrian campus, my roommate Marius Bucin was living under the atheistic iron yoke of Communism in his Romanian homeland. Marius endeared himself to me quickly, what with his humble devotion and his gentle yet witty humor. We easily became the best of friends and over the semester shared a great deal about faith, our family, as well as our respective homes.

What struck me most powerfully about Marius was the great and marked contrast of our native experiences. What heretofore I’d seen only in textbooks and on TV was an everyday experience of my roommate’s life: governmental persecution; attending underground Masses, if even at all; seeing father and mother imprisoned and priests and bishops martyred, all for the love of the Catholic faith.

“You do not know true suffering,” Marius told me in his broken English. As an American, I truly did not comprehend. But I came to understand, in the faith witness of Marius and the rest of my new Eastern European friends.

Marius, as well as others whose homes dotted the former Soviet eastern bloc, opened my eyes to the true meaning of sacrifice and suffering. They opened my eyes as well to the depth and richness, authenticity and vibrancy of the faith that must sustain one through it.

I left Gaming a changed man. Not only departing with new friends from parts of the globe I had previously only dreamt of, but with a greater grasp of the universality and breadth of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic faith.

Be it in the rich beauty of the liturgy of the East or the simple devotion with which the Eastern Europeans live the calling of their every day, my life as well as the lives of every other American student was enriched beyond compare by the likes of Marius Bucin. If the Kartause Maria Thron does nothing else but give its oft-sheltered American students an experience to witness the splendor of Mother Church “breathing with both lungs,” then to Franciscan University, I would say: job very well done.

Brian Lohmann ’98 graduated with a double major in political science and philosophy. He was a brother of Ahim Adonai Household. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and is an active member of Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Brian has been a corporate recruiter for 15-plus years, and helps run Scythian’s Appaloosa Music Festival, serving as the artist liaison, and media manager.

Brian Lohmann ’98 with Marius Bucin.